Felix Auger-Aliassime Is on a Roll
Felix Auger-Aliassime let out a bellow that pierced through the cheers inside the arena in Basel, Switzerland, two weeks ago. He had just beaten Holger Rune to win his 13th match in a row and his third consecutive ATP Tour title.
After flopping onto his back on the court following match point, then shaking his opponent’s hand, Auger-Aliassime returned to the middle of the court and stood with his mouth agape. The show of emotion was uncharacteristic for a player who is better known for being humble, subtle and, for the most part, quiet.
“It was just such a relief because there was so much tension at the end of a match like that,” Auger-Aliassime said by phone barely an hour after the trophy presentation. “It was in reference to really pushing myself to the limit for the last few weeks and months. I was just letting my body go a little bit. That scream felt really good.”
Three days later, Auger-Aliassime, 22, qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time when Taylor Fritz lost to Gilles Simon in the Rolex Paris Masters, sending Auger-Aliassime and Andrey Rublev into the eight-man year-end championships. He eventually pushed his winning streak to 16 matches, but he was finally stopped by Rune in the semifinals in Paris.
This summer he beat world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, then beat him again in the fall. He also beat Novak Djokovic to help Team World defeat Team Europe in the Laver Cup. In January, he and Denis Shapovalov led Canada to the ATP Cup. They hope to do the same in the Davis Cup Finals later this month.
The following interview has been edited and condensed.
Before this year you had never won an ATP title. Now you’ve won four of your last five finals. What was the turning point?
One of the big turning points was winning the ATP Cup. You’re not just playing for yourself but for your teammates, and to clinch the victory is double pressure. It was a big confidence booster.
You and Shapovalov have won some huge matches for Canada this year. You have also traveled a similar trajectory from junior success to the pros. Was the competition between you two essential?
Having Denis by my side in all those moments pushing each other is very positive. That’s the kind of energy and competition you want as countrymen and teammates. We bring out the best in each other.
You, Shapovalov, Bianca Andreescu and Leylah Fernandez are products of immigrant families. What does your success say about Canada’s ability to absorb immigrants and to foster their talent?
It just shows our country’s kindness and generosity. It also proves that strength comes from diversity and an open mind. I’m very proud that my dad, as an immigrant, gave me the tools, the will, the work ethic and the important values of life to have no fear, no regrets and to strive for the best.
Your ball toss is different from the beginning of the year. Has that helped?
I’ve struggled with it in the past, and it’s still not perfect. It’s an ongoing work. I try to analyze it and work on it every chance I get — every warm-up, every practice — just so that I have a very stable serve. I think it’s showing in my stats and my results.
Arthur Ashe had a big influence on you. How?
I first learned about him when I was a teenager and went to the U.S. Open and saw Arthur Ashe Stadium. I started asking people about him and learned so many interesting stories. I love everything about the man, the way he played, his style, his composure. He was a class act and a great example to people of color.
What is the one other thing you would like people to know about you?
Wow, that’s a deep question. I’m pretty sure that what you see is what you get. I try to stay true to myself and my family values. I try to be giving and generous and maintain good relationships. I like to rally people together and be a good leader.